Holland Village, Singapore
Holland Village has a rustic appeal unique in Singapore, a city known for its shopping malls and spotless environment.
The 'village' resembles a European high street, with low, terraced buildings. Restaurants representing myriad cuisines spill onto the streets, while second-floor interior-design and gift stores, along with a healthy smattering of beauty salons, make up the bulk of the shopping in this area.
The entrance of Le Kraton (25A Lorong Mambong, tel: 65 6464 5250) is as cool and inviting as the shop's interior. Concrete steps decorated with inlaid jewels and scented candles lead to the sleek store and its furnishings. Oversized lampshades at S$450 ($2,150) are a good investment.
Next door, Antipodean (27A Lorong Mambong, tel: 65 6463 7336) specialises in clothing, selling 17 brands hand-picked from the cream of Australian and New Zealand fashion design. Brands include Body, from Melbourne, Camilla and Marc, from Sydney, and Morrison, from Perth, as well as Paper Denim & Cloth, from the United States. Expect to pay from S$300 to S$600. Anthro (16A Lorong Mambong, tel: 65 6467 2663) is a lifestyle store selling appealing bits and bobs from around the region. This is the place for placemats, stationery and pet accessories. Most items cost about S$60.
Thambi Magazine Store is a Holland Village institution, selling a global what's what of magazines and newspapers. Need your fix of Spanish Hola!, German motoring magazines or Paris Match? They're all here on racks and trellis tables opposite the mall.
At Framatic Art Gallery (245 Holland Avenue, tel: 65 6469 0911), try the handmade candles by Wicked Wix, in scents including Spring Rain and Lily (S$26 each). Avant-Garde (3 Lorong Liput, Holland Village Shopping Mall, tel: 65 6462 1408) is a members-only women's apparel and accessories store, where runway-inspired tops and skirts flutter
on the most adorable pearl and beaded hangers. Sequined pumps, a la Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz, can be found at X:Opus (Holland Village Shopping Centre, tel: 65 6463 8823) for S$30, as can necklaces made from coloured stones. Beads @ Work (17B Lorong Liput, tel: 65 6465 2878) has a market-stall approach, in which customers are encouraged to rummage through boxes of beads and hand-pick wooden, stone or glass gems - for about S$1 each - to create their own designs. The store sells all the tools needed to make necklaces, bracelets and hair accessories, including strings, clasps and silver- and gold-plated chains. If you are too lazy to make your own, nearby Bejeweled (Holland Village Shopping Mall, tel: 65 6469 4977) is a candy box of designs, with most items selling for S$30.